ASHLAND, Ohio – The AU baseball team split a doubleheader with Findlay on Friday (April 27) afternoon at Donges Field, winning Game 1, 5-1, before falling in the nightcap, 5-4.
Junior right-handed starter Brad Thomas (Orrville, Ohio) was excellent in Friday's opener, tossing six shutout innings.
The Eagles (25-19, 17-13 GLIAC) supported him with single runs in the second and third innings. In the second sophomore Tyler Gray (Plain City, Ohio/Jonathan Alder) singled, moved to second on a bunt, to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI single by senior Ethan Houck (Fort Wayne, Ind./Glen Oaks CC).
In the third inning, senior Zach Thompson (Marshalltown, Iowa/Cleveland State) was hit by a pitch to start the inning. He stole second base and scored when Findlay left fielder Jon Shollenberger bobbled the ball on a single by sophomore Wade Kaido (Zanesville, Ohio).
The Eagles scored again in the fifth inning. Thompson led off with a single, moved to second on a bunt and to third on a wild pitch. He scored on Kaido's single to center field to give AU a 3-0 lead.
Ashland added its final two runs in the sixth inning after the first two batters in the inning were retired on strikeouts by Findlay starter Preston Zachrich. Freshman Stephen James (Westlake, Ohio) drew a walk to start the rally and stole second. He scored on an RBI single to right by freshman Austin Walts (Amherst, Ohio/Steele). Walts then stole second and scored on Thompson's double into left-center.
Meanwhile, Thomas was terrific. He allowed just three hits and did not walk a batter. The closest the Oilers (15-28, 8-22 GLIAC) came to scoring came in the fourth when they got a runner to third base and two outs. Thomas got Dustin Zielaskiwicz to hit a chopper back to the mound to end the inning.
Thomas (7-2) picked up the win for the Eagles, making just 68 pitches in his six innings of work. Sophomore left-hander Cole Hudson (Dresden, Ohio/Zanesville) allowed an unearned run in the seventh inning to close the game.
Zachrich (3-5) took the loss for the Oilers. He allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits as the Oilers were hurt by three errors.
Thompson reached base three times for AU, going 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Kaido also had two hits in the game.
In Game 2, the Oilers jumped out to a 2-0 lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings off AU junior starter Shayne Herold (LeRoy, N.Y./Genesee CC).
The Eagles, who were held in check by UF starter Ethan James, finally broke through in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead. With one out, freshman Adam Urbania (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) singled and went to second when Stephen James reached on an error. Walts followed with a single to right field to score Urbania. Thompson was hit by a pitch to load the bases and freshman Giancarlo Saia (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic) tied the game with an RBI groundout. After Kaido walked to re-load the bases, junior John Broll (Mississauga, Ont./Genesee CC) drew a run-scoring walk to give AU a 3-2 lead.
AU added an insurance run in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Walts that scored Houck, who reached on a dropped third strike.
In the end, the Eagles needed one more insurance run as the Oilers scored three times in the top of the seventh inning off senior right-hander Aaron Hilt (Richmond, Ohio/Edison), who came on for the save. With two down and the AU lead down to 4-3, Riley Christian smoked an RBI double into left-center to tie the game. Reid Rothenbuhler's RBI hit to right field gave the Oilers the lead.
Alex Williams picked up his eighth save of the season by retiring the Eagles in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Hilt (6-7) took the loss for Ashland. Herold tossed six solid innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out five, throwing 69 pitches, 52 for strikes.
Derek Draper (1-1) picked up the win for Findlay, allowing an unearned run on one hit 1.1 innings of relief. Ethan James allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in 4.2 innings in his start for UF.
Urbania was 3-for-3 with a run scored to lead the AU offense. Walts was 1-for-2 and drove in a pair of runs. Christian was 3-for-3 with two RBI for the Oilers.
The teams are off on Saturday (April 28) with impending bad weather forecasted for the afternoon. The series will resume Sunday (April 29) at 1 p.m. at Donges Field. The Eagles will celebrate Youth Day and Senior Day.